(In 1964 The Queen unveiled an equestrian statue of Robert Bruce overlooking the field at Bannockburn. The features were a romantic interpretation of a plaster cast of the King’s skull)
When I first saw Bruce, scooped shining
from bronze in a blade of autumn sun,
he had the jaw of a superhero,
gaze fixed on the cartoon world in peril,
Dr Octopus at Stirling Castle,
or the Circus of Doom crossing the Bannock Burn.
Too remote to be real:
my father was mashed in war and I was not
of a generation to think anywhere,
least of all Scotland, that grey puddled place
shut on a Sunday, worth dying for.
As long as it was for something prefixed
international, I marched across the land,
until, when finally standing still,
my country grew uninvited round me,
not the one with heroes shrunk the size
of shortbread tins, or even a sweep of landscape
that takes the breath like a blow in the gut,
but the one seen in the boss of a child’s eye,
her face sore with smiling:
that Scotland, it turns out, a place
worth living for.